With their backs against the wall in a tightening playoff race, the Westports Malaysia Dragons summoned their best effort in their biggest win of the season.
The Dragons defeated the red hot San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in a thrilling 90-89 down the wire battle, keeping their playoff hopes alive inside the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
What made the Dragons’ victory even more impressive was the team had to pull out the victory in the clutch without their two World Imports Chris Eversley and Bryan Davis, who both fouled out in middle of the fourth quarter. That left Joshua Munzon and Jawhar Purdy as the only Imports available. They rose to the occasion, particularly Munzon, as he hit big baskets and free throws down the stretch for Malaysia.
Munzon had 19 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks in the contest. He struggled shooting the ball for majority of the game, until he came alive in the final quarter. To make matters even worse, Eversley would also foul out with 6:17 left in the game. San Miguel Alab Pilipinas threatened to pull away midway through the third quarter, as a Renaldo Balkman would give Alab an eight point lead with 6:98 left. But a 9-2 run highlighted by a Munzon steal and dunk at the 3:28 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Dragons the lead at 85-84.
A triple from Urbiztondo with 3:06 to go would immediately restore the lead to the visiting squad. Both teams would be unable to manufacture offense before a free throw from Wong Yi Hou and a booming triple from Munzon would give the Dragons a two point lead with 27 seconds left.
A basket from Balkman tied the game once again, and after a defensive stop by Alab Pilipinas, Justin Brownlee would be tested at the free throw line after a disqualifying foul from Davis. The normally reliable Brownlee would miss both free throws.
The Dragons would be put in the same scenario, as an aggressive drive from Munzon resulted in a foul committed by Lawrence Domingo. Munzon made one free throw, giving his team the slimmest of leads at 90-89 with 13 seconds remaining. With time remaining for Alab to steal the game, Brownlee penetrated and kicked it out to teammate Dondon Hontiveros for the wide open right corner triple. Hontiveros missed the three, Yi Hou corralled the defensive rebound, and the Dragons celebrated their dramatic victory in center court at the MABA Stadium.
Eversley had another impressive performance in his return to the ABL, finishing with 36 points on 12/23 shooting from the field. Tian Kuek Yuan contributed 14 points on a fiery 4/5 from beyond the arc.
Balkman paced Alab with 33 points and 19 rebounds, followed by Brownlee’s 25 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Reigning Local MVP Ray Parks had 10 points and 7 rebounds before fouling out in the final period.
The Dragons’s win keeps their playoff hopes alive, as they rise to 5-10 in the standings. They trail the Saigon Heat, currently at 7th overall in the standings. They’re hoping for some Heat losses in order to have a chance to make it to the next round.
San Miguel Alab Pilipinas falls to 11-5 and sees it’s eight game winning streak snapped. The team drops to 3rd place behind Mono Vampire Basketball Club